It is a common misconception that only older people are affected by arthritis. However, nearly 300,000 children in America have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.
July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to discuss these conditions that can develop in children and teens. This month is about changing the stigma surrounding arthritis, and spreading awareness about the younger generations who have also been diagnosed with it.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, “juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions or pediatric rheumatic diseases that can develop in children and teens.”
Symptoms of juvenile arthritis
- Joint swelling
- Redness and warmth near joints
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is the most common form of childhood arthritis. It is uncertain exactly what causes it. Research has suggested that a person’s genes could make them more likely to develop it.
While there is no cure for JIA, remission is possible if there’s an early diagnosis and aggressive treatment. Treatment is provided to relieve inflammation, control pain and improve the child’s quality of life.
- The goal of treatment is to fight the condition as quickly as possible to prevent further joint damage and stop the disease from worsening.
- Though surgery is rarely used to treat this condition, it can help to correct leg length discrepancy, or replace a damaged joint.
It’s important to know how to help your child if they have been diagnosed with JIA, as well as helping them to learn how to cope with it.
- If your child is experiencing morning stiffness, have them take a hot bath or shower to relieve it. The longer the stiffness lasts, the more active the condition. Using a hot or cold pack can help to alleviate stiffness as well.
- Physical activity is always a good plan, but especially for children with JIA as activities like swimming and biking are great for muscles and joints. These low-impact activities don’t require putting weight-bearing stress on joints.
- It’s essential to ensure your child maintains a nutritious diet. This includes a diet low in processed foods. Try making more meals with veggies, fish and beans to help ease inflammation.
This information has been adapted from the Arthritis Foundation.
If you have any questions about juvenile arthritis or arthritis in general, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician. For more information about Campbell Clinic, please visit our website.